The Washington State Department of Ecology fears a new Environmental Protection Agency rule could put water quality at risk in the Pacific Northwest.
The new EPA rule affects Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which requires developers of projects that could send discharge into a waterway and that need federal permits to get a Water Quality Certification. A Water Quality Certification is a special permit stating that a building project will not greatly pollute any bodies of water to the extent that the waterway falls below the state’s standards for clean water.
Examples of projects requiring a certification include natural gas pipelines and hydroelectric projects, according to the EPA.
But the Department of Ecology said the EPA’s rule will prevent the state from being able to thoroughly vet applications for these certifications.
Department of Ecology sees increase in illegal dumping in parks, public lands
“They’re basically tying the state’s hands by saying, ‘OK, you can only look at certain projects, or you can only look at certain impacts, and additionally, we’re going to shorten the time that you have to review these projects,’” said Sharlett Mena, special assistant to the director for the Department of Ecology. “They’re trying to give us fewer tools to prevent us from stopping the project from going forward.”
Ecology suspects this federal action is the Trump administration playing directly into the hands of the big businesses that don’t want their projects stopped.
“It’s almost like they gave industry a red pen and said, ‘Here, what would you like to see?’” Mena

Original Article